This is going to sound crazy but throughout last year I learned that in order for me to have a productive day I simply have to keep multitasking to the minimum. I heard that statement thousands of times before, but I never put much thought into it till one day when I had an incident which led to a revelation.
It all started with sending some work emails to the wrong people, probably because I was thinking about the cake that I had just put in the oven. It was followed by a quick shower that was interrupted by a phone call, only I couldn't find my phone - result: wet footsteps all over the apartment. Then a sudden trip downstairs to check the mailbox - so sudden, in fact, that I managed to close my front door with the keys inside - me standing in the corridor with wet hair, the dogs barking frantically...and to top if off, burning the cake, of course. Yup! When Balazs got home the flat looked like after a tornado, I missed a work-meeting and the burned cake smell stayed with us for a few days.
Well, I learned my lesson and ever since that utterly miserable day I took slow steps to manage my day a bit better. So, today I’d love to share a few tips that work for me and I’d love to hear yours too.
- Try to work in 60-90 minutes short stings without interruptions and then get up, stretch, make a cup of tea, have a little Skype chat with a friend or go for a short walk to pick up fresh flowers. For real, you can do anything you want during your little break, as long as it recharges your batteries.
- Always keep water on your desk as something that basic will keep you focused and hydrated. I noticed that often when I was thirsty, my brain registered that information as being hungry and from that point on I had the hardest time concentrating on the task at hand as the only thing I could think of was food.
- David Allen once said: “Your head is for having ideas, not holding them. Just dumping everything out of your head and externalizing it is a huge step, and it can have a significant effect”. So start making “to do” lists. They are great to keep you on tasks but don’t let them stress you out. Do yourself a favour and mark things with different colours by importance level. They are just lists, if you don’t manage to get to your orange colour tasks that day, that’s fine. You managed to do all the red colour things anyway :)
- Also, always set your day according to your “rhythm”. I am more of a night person so I am most productive in the afternoons and do most of my day-to-day things (laundry, food shopping, and errands) during the morning. So by the time I start properly working, I feel like I already achieved something that day.
- Emails and social media can be a huge daily distraction but I insist on keeping those open at all times when I work. (If you can manage, they are better switched off). Since I have a hard time switching them off, I started to set myself times when I go back to them for a little “look-see”.
- Having said that, I manage to keep to my “look-see times” since I started using Rebecca's kitchen timer trick. I set the timer for the amount of time that my project requires and I only focus on that during the set time. I even don’t pick up my phone during that slot.
- And since I work from home I break my days by going for a swim or a run but only if I finished a certain part of my work. You know what they say: ‘a healthy body is a happy mind’.
Now loves, your turn! Are you good with staying focused on your projects, work? Do you get easily distracted? Do you procrastinate? How do you stay productive or focused? What are your tricks? Where do you work from: home, office, café? xo
(Photos via Now and Than, Becycle, Armchair Golf and the drawing via Oh so Lovely Obsessions)